Africa may have its second nuclear power station within years. The first one was built in South African Republic in 1984, while the second station in planned in Nigeria. Russia is likely to run the project. The sides have already signed a draft agreement on the proposed nuclear power plant, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, says.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has forced some countries to denounce nuclear power. However, this is far from becoming a tendency. Apart from the Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town, Africa is almost pristine in terms of nuclear industry. However, there is a growing demand in nuclear energy in the continent, Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov says: "Nuclear energy will remain in demand worldwide for it offers a nature-friendly source of energy to the developing countries. This also offers a platform for new technology, including new sources of energy. That is why more countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are seeking their national nuclear industries. And being the world`s third leading nuclear producers, Russia is ready to help these countries achieve their goal."
According to the World Nuclear Association, a whole number of African countries have been turning toward nuclear energy. These include Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda and Namibia. For most of them, however, discussing nuclear power plant projects would be a bit too premature, but not in Nigeria. Sergei Novikov explains why:
"Russia and Nigeria have an intergovernmental agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. A new bilateral document has been drafted to pave the way for the construction of Nigeria’s first nuclear power plant. The draft has been coordinated by experts from both sides, and now Rosatom and our Nigerian counterparts will send these documents to their governments for approval."
Of course, an intergovernmental agreement is not a contract that directly precedes construction, but it fits in with Rosatom’s plans to build a solid legal basis for international nuclear energy partnership. Pavel Yakovlev, chief editor of the Atomic-energy.ru web portal, points to another aspect of nuclear cooperation with Nigeria:
"Nigeria is one of the world’s leading uranium producers. The country holds 7% of global uranium resources. Until recently, France was a key player there. French extracting companies were very active in Nigeria."
As far as safety is concerned, the construction of the first nuclear power plant in any previously non-nuclear country is regulated and closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).